12.03.15

Gardner Ensures Highway Bill Reflects Colorado Priorities

Washington, DC – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) released the following statement today following his vote in favor of the Highway Bill passed by the Senate:

“This Highway Bill is the result of hard work from members of both parties in the House and the Senate. It gives states and local communities five years of certainty in planning transportation projects, allowing them to save money through longer-term budgeting. I’m proud that I was able to secure several provisions in the Highway Bill that are especially relevant to Colorado and will help ensure that our priorities are a part of national transportation policy. Colorado is growing fast, and it’s absolutely critical that our infrastructure keeps up with that growth.”                                                                                                                                              

Among the provisions Senator Gardner secured in the Highway Bill were:

Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Improvements

  • Three major Colorado road projects were under threat of not moving forward with construction as the result of changes that were initially considered to the TIFIA program as the bill was being drafted.
  • Senator Gardner worked with members in both parties to make changes improving the program, and ensure that the three Colorado road projects would be able to use the program and move forward with construction.
  • The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has plans for the construction of three major projects: C470 Express Lanes, Interstate 70 East of Denver, and, critically, North Interstate 25 expansion. TIFIA could be used as a financing mechanism for construction of these projects.

Population Growth Consideration

  • The bill included the creation of a new grant program: the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) program. 
  • Senator Gardner included a change to the NSHFP program which would require the Department of Transportation to consider the impact of population growth when awarding the authorized grants.
  • The language will assist Colorado, one of the fastest growing states in the nation, in getting funding to improve corridors that congested by rapid population growth, including Interstate 25 North of Denver. 

Surface Transportation Block Grant Program

  • The bill converts the Surface Transportation Program (STP) into a new block grant program that will give more flexibility to localities to use transportation funds the way they see fit.
  • During consideration of the House version of the bill, language was included that could have prohibited localities from using STP dollars for transit projects – most notably Denver Regional Transportation District.
  • Senator Gardner pressed the highway bill conferees to include language that lets localities use these funds in a way that will best serve their community, giving more flexibility to Colorado communities to manage their infrastructure. 

Intelligent Transportation Systems

  • The base text of the bill included language establishing a new grant program for the deployment of Intelligent Transportation Systems.
  • Senator Gardner worked with CDOT to improve the program by focusing on vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies.
  • CDOT would like to initiate a pilot program to test the feasibility of these technologies on both Interstate 70 and Interstate 25 to better manage traffic.

Train Noise

  • The bill includes language requested by Senator Gardner requiring the Government Accountability Office to study and report on the effectiveness of the 2006 Federal Railroad Administration’s rule on train horns are highway-grade crossings.
  • An independent study could help find potential ways to improve the rule for communities impacted by train noise.

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 Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.